Kafka versus Dr. Seuss

To Wait or Not to Wait - that is our question

Every night, the wife and I read a couple bedtime stories to our young kids. One of my daughter’s favorites is Dr Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

We both recommend it highly. If you don’t have it – get it now..

The story speaks to “you,” a young boy. He learns all about life’s potential greatness as well as its dangers and difficulties.

I read it again recently and one part keeps popping in my head. The story warns the boy about getting lost in life’s “rat race.” Not taking action, but instead just …waiting.

Dr. Seuss’ words about waiting

The Waiting Place…
…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.

Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a sting of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.

Everyone is just waiting.

Clearly to Dr. Seuss, waiting is not a good thing. (& I agree)

Enter Franz Kafka. As a writer, he’s one of the all-time greats. As a boy born in Prague in a German Jewish family, Kafka struggled with identity. A minority of a minority. He didn’t accept it well. It was tough times for Franz and his writing shows it. His dark writing style was usually about “senseless, disorienting, often menacing complexity.” (sources)

What’s Kafka say about waiting?

Kafka’s words about Waiting

You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.

In a Nutshell…
There you have it.
Seuss says: waiting = bad
Kafka says: waiting = good

Why do I mention this? Because it mirrors a tough decision for us these days. I said in a past post, we know our future lies between two cities: New York City, USA and Halifax, Canada.
In one city, we have a chance of a grand opportunity. An exciting chance in an exciting city. But it’s not for certain. Instead we must wait. Out of our control, we wait. Kafka says it’s all fine, …”it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
In the other city, we also have uncertainty but the choice is completely in our control. We take that choice and wake up believing whatever we want to believe.

blue.pill.red.pill

What are your thoughts?

Anyway, this is what’s weighing heavily on our minds today and the past few weeks.

Thanks for reading,
-Jeff

Published by

Jeff

An American who likes to move around.
I now live on the eastern Canadian seaboard. My job? A stay-at-home dad for two cute but demanding bosses. My wife? Also cute; not so demanding.
My wife and I both love travel. We met in South Korea, travelled across Australia, India, Europe and beyond. We lived in Czech Republic for four years. Many stories to tell and experience to share. If you let me, I will help you travel as we do.
Enjoy.

8 thoughts on “Kafka versus Dr. Seuss”

  1. We stopped in Halifax, NS for a brief interlude (OK, we made it through nine months and one disgusting winter before we bailed) in between India and Texas. We’re actually from that region, originally. Please get it touch if we can help or answer questions for you.

  2. Thanks Danielle!

    Small world – my wife’s from NS as well. Nappan I think it was, eons ago, before she got hooked up with this Yankee. I stole her heart while we taught English in South Korea. What brought you to India? India – now That is one exciting place!

    Will get in touch, either to hear more about NS or just to chat.
    -Jeff

  3. Just a quick update to my Kafka vs Dr. Seuss post…our waiting game is over. We are heading to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

    After a summer vacation motorhoming around “this home” for June, we’ll fly out of Frankfurt, Germany and set up house in Halifax.
    That said, we still have our fingers crossed that we’ll find ourselves in New York, NY someday.

    Thanks for all who follow,
    -Jeff

  4. Wow! Congratulations! Summer in Nova Scotia is lovely. Is your wife from Annapolis Valley by any chance? (That’s where my husband is from). Well, best of luck to you and yours. Do get in touch if there’s any thing we do to help.

    Danie B.

  5. I don’t think Dr. Seuss was saying waiting is bad at all. Just describing situations where one waits. A handful of those were situations where the waiting person was holding themselves up. But most were just a function of life. I think both Kafka and Seuss were pretty ambivalent regarding waiting… at least in the pieces you quoted in your post.

    p.s. Old post, I know. Was listed in related posts, I think.

    1. hey Dan, I’m fairly sure that Dr. Seuss was being negative on people choosing to wait.

      Let me continue to quote “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”:

      Everyone is just waiting.
      No! That’s not for you!
      Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying.
      You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing.
      With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high!
      Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

      Yeah, Dr. Seuss would rather we act than wait. Dan, grab yourself a copy of the book. Even as a children’s story, it’s the most motivational book you can finish in 5 minutes.

      -Jeff

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